RESULTS of the Balili executive committee investigation will be out this week if the body will have a quorum today, said National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 Director Medardo de Lemos yesterday.

Members of the special panel Gov. Gwen Garcia formed to investigate the Balili controversy will meet today and discuss the contents of the fourth draft of their investigation report.

It’s their final meeting today with the members of the fact-finding inquiry formed by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

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De Lemos, in an interview yesterday, hopes today’s meeting will be the last so that the findings can finally be submitted to Garcia for action.

“The facts are already established even during the first draft. It’s getting a consensus on the recommendation that is challenging. Once that is done, we can transmit our findings,” he said.

The panel, which de Lemos was appointed by the governor to chair, is composed of representatives from the legislative and executive departments.

Close to seven months behind deadline, it has yet to submit its report.

De Lemos refused to give details on the draft of recommendations.

“We would like this out our box as early as possible,” de Lemos said.

They already had the draft last December, but they had a problem having a quorum. They were busy, de Lemos said.

De Lemos was at the Capitol yesterday for the signing of a memorandum of agreement which binds the Provincial Government to provide legal assistance to the NBI for criminal cases stemming from its law enforcement operations.

When asked if this will influence the panel’s report, de Lemos said the memorandum of agreement is from one institution to another, regardless of personalities.

De Lemos hinted, however, that whatever their recommendation to the governor will be, it will be merely a recommendation and will be limited to the bounds set by her executive order dated August 24.

The Balili controversy revolves around the Capitol’s purchase of P97 million worth of “land” in Tinaan, Naga, which, upon inspection, turned out to be largely underwater.

Garcia approved the deal and signed the contract.

When criticisms were raised against it, she apologized publicly and said she merely relied on the recommendations of people under her, including Provincial Board Member Juan Bolo, who supposedly brokered the transaction. Bolo denied this.

Garcia then created the panel and gave it 30 days to submit a report.

The panel’s investigation is separate from the fact-finding investigation being conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.

Final evaluation

No update has been given regarding that probe though. Moreover, the final evaluation report will be sent directly to the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila.

This after Tanodbayan Merceditas Gutierrez issued a memorandum expanding a directive that requires all cases set for preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication against high-ranking officials to be sent to Manila for handling.

With Memorandum Circular No. 2 series of 2009, Gutierrez says even final evaluation reports, whether recommending a dismissal or an upgrading, are to be sent to Manila for final approval “effective immediately.”

The directive clips the powers of sectoral offices like the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas even more.

It leaves the sectoral office incapable of making any final approval on any investigation – formal or fact-finding – against any high-ranking public official.

Memorandum Circular No. 2 covers provincial governors, vice governors, board members, provincial department heads, city mayors, vice mayors, city councilors, city department heads, government prosecutors and their assistants, as well as presidents, directors, trustees and managers of government owned and controlled corporations, state universities, institutions and foundations.

Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca-Santiago has defended the order amidst criticism that it was issued to legitimize Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol’s earlier act of sending to Manila the final evaluation report over another incident involving Gov. Garcia – the allegations of overpricing and procurement law violations committed in line with the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center.